Stranded Antarctic passengers on their way home
ALMOST two weeks after becoming stranded on an Antarctic ice shelf, a group of relieved scientists and journalists were on board an Australian rescue ship and headed for open waters on Friday.
It took Australian and Chinese rescue crews seven hours to retrieve the 52 passengers trapped on board the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy, which froze in place during a blizzard on Christmas Eve. T
he rescue, which went well into Thursday night, came after treacherous weather conditions and thick ice thwarted several previous attempts.
With a helicopter onboard, Chinese icebreaker Xue Long helped transport the passengers from the stranded ship to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority emergency response co-ordinator John Young told reporters on Friday testing conditions had made "life very difficult" for crews and he was relieved the operation was over and the ships were headed for Casey Station.
The Aurora Australis is expected to reach Tasmania by the end of January.